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What is a Storyboard?
What is Storyboarding?

When I first joined a multimedia team, I thought of multimedia as creating cartoon animations and storyboards as a sequence of images for a film. While working in the team that was developing CBTs (Computer-based Trainings) and WBTs (Web-based Training), my concept of storyboards, in fact, multimedia in totality, underwent a change.

In the context of CBTs or WBTs, a storyboard usually means text on a particular topic or theme, interspersed with description of graphics, animation, and video; organized logically in the order in which it is intended to appear in the online presentation or the developed course.

In simple terms, storyboarding is a technique used to organize and display information visually. It is a visual representation of the menu screens, text, and graphics, animations, and audio accompanying the text.

Storyboards serve as a communication tool between the instructional designer and the following profiles: developers, graphic artists, audio artists, SMEs (Subject Matter Experts).

A storyboard must clearly indicate to the developers what they need to program – the animation steps, interactions, hyperlinks, and navigation. Graphic artists use the storyboards to get an idea of the different elements and graphics required on each screen of the presentation or the course. In fact, it is recommended to provide a separate list of graphic components that will be used frequently in a storyboard. Audio artists refer to the storyboard for instructions on pronouncing technical terms. The also need to take care of paragraph breaks that would determine their flow. SMEs review and approve the storyboards before the course is actually developed. Therefore, storyboards must contain all assumptions and appropriate notes for SMEs.

Storyboards serve as a backup for the constructed course. Therefore, you must update them after each review, adding appropriate notes, if required.

Components of a Storyboard

Ideally, an online course or training is structured into lessons and topics. You write a storyboard for each topic.

Each topic covers a specific objective and the topic storyboard consists of the following components.

  • Introduction
  • Concept Screens
  • Graphics
  • Question/Exercise/Interaction
  • Precise Instructions for Developers
  • Summary

The introduction screen provides a brief overview of the topic and defines the scope of the topic. It also defines the topic objectives.

Concept Screens

Concept screens cover the subject matter of the topic in detail. In other words, concept screens explain the topic objectives. Concept screens typically include a graphic (conceptual or screenshot) or an interactive element. You may also define hyperlinks on a concept screen.

Concept screens are interspersed with other types of screens, such as examples, questions, hints, animations, and exercises.


Hyperlinks are used to define secondary terms in a topic. Secondary terms are those terms that users are already familiar with. Hyperlinks help to reinstate and refresh such terms. Hyperlinks are also used to link to related sites.

Animation Screens

An animation screen helps to illustrate or animate a sequence or process. For example, an animation may provide steps for installation of an application.

Hands-on or Practice Screens

A practice screen helps in providing hands-on experience on performing a task in a simulated virtual software environment, thereby helping you evaluate the learner’s understanding of an action-based objective. Typically, there is a related animation for each practice so that the learner gets an idea of the steps to be performed, before attempting the practice.

Exercise or Question Screens

Questions enable learners to exhibit mastery of the concepts covered in the topic. Typically, inline questions provide a diagnostic feedback for the options selected. Therefore, questions are a good reinforcement tool. You can write the following types of questions in your storyboard.

  • Fill-in-the blanks
  • True and False
  • Single select
  • Multiple choice single select
  • Multiple choice multiple select
  • Sorting
  • Sequencing
  • Match the following

Additionally, you can include instructions for developers to create point and click type of questions.


You should include a brief description of the conceptual graphics. If you are scripting an application-based course, you should include the appropriate screen grab. It is recommended to include a graphic file name for ease of incorporation.

Precise Instructions for Developers

You must indicate what the developer needs to do on special screens, like on audio or vide based screens, animation, or assessment screens. For example, you should provide specific instructions on when the audio or the video file should play, for example, on a button press or on each paragraph change.

Hint Screens

Hints provide useful tips from subject matter experts on performing a particular task. Hints are used to provide only “nice to know” information and not “must know” information. In other words, hints provide a tip on performing a task in a “better”, “smarter” and “typical” way.


The summary screen is used to highlight the main points covered in a topic. It helps you review and revise the content covered in the topic.

Sample Format of a Storyboard
Course name:			_________________________________________

Lesson name: 			_________________________________________
Topic name:			_________________________________________
Topic objectives:		_________________________________________

Page title:			_________________________________________
Page number:			_________________________________________

Page content:			_________________________________________

Page hint/tip: 			_________________________________________
Glossary term definition:	_________________________________________
Graphic description & name:	_________________________________________
Links:				_________________________________________
Media desc. & file names:	_________________________________________

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